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FDL officials appear before the state's Joint Committee on Finance

6:11 PM, May 16, 2013  |  Comments
AMY HANSEN
AMY HANSEN
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Fond du Lac took center stage today when three officials appeared before the state's Joint Committee on Finance at Lambeau Field to ask the legislature to examine the economic impact the arts has on economic development, tourism and jobs.

Kevin Miller, executive director of the Fond du Lac Arts Council which owns and operates Windhover Center for the Arts, spoke to the Committee. Fond du Lac City Manager Joe Moore and Downtown Fond du Lac Partnership (DFP) Executive Director Amy Hansen attended to show support and answer questions.

As a newly appointed member to the Wisconsin Arts Board and because of the Windhover's multi-million dollar expansion and renovation project, Miller was asked to speak. When Windhover re-opens in September, the newly redesigned arts center will allow for outdoor concerts, high-profile art exhibits, and a premier venue for weddings and corporate gatherings. Windhover is also the cornerstone of the Arts and Entertainment District, created to revitalize downtown. The district includes Trinity Hall, affordable housing for artists and streetscape improvements.

"The intent is to enhance a struggling downtown, creating an atmosphere inviting to developers, small business owners, and tourism, all centered on the arts," Miller told the committee. "A request that I make to you today, is to consider ways to support municipalities like Fond du Lac, who struggle with their budgets, yet need the resources to build upon private investment such as the Windhover expansion."

Miller told the committee that if Wisconsin is truly going to be the home for the best and the brightest, the state is going to have to invest more than 15 cents per capita in the arts. Wisconsin is ranked 46th nationally, trailing Alabama and Mississippi, in its contribution to the arts, he added.

Arts Wisconsin, the state's arts service, advocacy and development organization, is organizing testimony at each of the four JFC hearings, said Anne Katz, executive director of Arts Wisconsin.

"We want to show our legislators the current depth, breadth, and impact of the arts, arts education and creative economy throughout the state, and to discuss the need for Wisconsin to invest in its creative people, organizations, businesses and communities for future success locally, regionally and statewide," Katz said.

Fond du Lac City Manager Joe Moore said investment in the arts should be an important part of any conversation about economic development. "The Arts create jobs, vibrant communities, and a competitive advantage in employee recruitment and retention," Moore said.

DFP Executive Director Amy Hansen said expansion projects involving arts centers have proven to be a catalyst in many communities. "Support for such projects has a positive impact on surrounding businesses. The arts are also critical in providing quality of life opportunities to local residents, offering benefits to people looking to relocate to our community, and generating tourism dollars," Hansen said.

For more information about Downtown Fond du Lac, click www.downtownfonddulac.com or the City of Fond du Lac, www.fdl.wi.gov. For more information about Arts Wisconsin, click www.artswisconsin.org. Windhover Center for the Arts works to advocate, educate and provide access to the arts for our community. For more information, click www.windhovercenter.org.

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